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It was summer break, and Trishul was in Austria - yes, a 'vacation', but with loads of planned visits to vineyards and wineries - Rust being the final destination on his itinerary.
He had heard a lot about the little town, about the history of its famed wine with its five hundred year old 'R'; its numerous wineries tucked away in courtyards behind fašades of heraldic stucco. Their very special Ruster Ausbruch - claimed as the most impressive sweet wine in the world! And of course, the numerous vineyards scattered all around the town and the lake.
It was an exploratory trip to the town - end his Austrian tour with a quiet break on the shores of the famed Neusiedl lake. But he also had plans to visit the famed Wine Academy there... gather more information about their WSET, and their Master of Wine Programme (of course, after he'd completed his BS)... or maybe, even extend his stay, and go ahead and do one of their 'wine-weekend' Basisseminar, just for the fun of it!
Trishul left Vienna in his rented car and was there in an hour. Being a Sunday, he planned to just laze around, walk the cobbled path and explore the town... visit the Academy the next morning, and Tuesday, his last day in Rust, he'd follow the way-markers along the gentle slope of the lake and visit some nearby towns and vineyards!
Parking in the Rathausplatz (Town-hall Square), he simply sat in his car - captivated by the simple beauty of the place, the ancient country charm - admiring the large cobbled square with its quaint wooden benches and potted plants... the colourful frontage of the buildings surrounding it - the striking Kremayr House opposite the Rathaus (Town Hall)... and of course, the famous Stadtbrunnen. Perhaps the only coloured person in town, wide-eyed in becharmed wonderment!
Finally getting out he walked over to the Rathauskeller - the warm and cosy restaurant in the basement of the Town Hall with its huge fireplace in the middle of the room - and ordered breakfast. The food turned out to be simple, but good; and the staff, curious and courteous.
Fortified, he stepped out under the clear, azure sky once more and headed for the hotel he had booked, well, he needed to check-in and let them know that he had arrived, and then he'd explore the town!
He took a slow walk down the cobbled lanes and streets, walking around the Haydn Square and the Conrad Square... under the old town gate, and past the powder tower... amazed by the number of storks nesting on nearly every rooftop and chimney... and after a leisurely lunch, he was back at the Rathausplatz, whiling away the afternoon at Kremayr House...
A quick shower, and he was out again, headed for the old Seehof, and the Academy - he wanted to just look around, check out the place before he visited it the next day; and then he'd go to the lake, whose rising mist imbued the grapes with the 'noble-rot' that made the Ruster Ausbruch so distinctive!
It was there, in the romantic setting of the old Seehof, that he saw Kurt...
Tall, lithe and gorgeously cute, with sharp features and tight brown curls, the youth was in the courtyard, sitting on the steps...
The attraction had been instantaneous, and mutual... and they shamelessly stared on... Kurt finally breaking the spell with an impish grin as he got up and stepped forward.
"Kurt," the youth said, proffering his hand.
"tree-Shool... " Kurt repeated, trying to imitate the sound, rolling the syllables around his tongue as if tasting wine, the grin wider. "Visiting?"
"Yes," Trishul nodded, suddenly feeling flushed as he looked into those brown eyes - piercing one moment, and fluid the next, forever twinkling with a puckish glint.
"From India?" Kurt asked.
"Yes," Trishul smiled, "but now in Europe, studying."
Kurt was nineteen too and lived in Vienna, doing his economics at the Universitńt Wien (University of Vienna)... was visiting his grandparents for the day.
The conversation was unending as they walked down and sat by the lakeside, and it was late when Trishul finally suggested, "Want to join me for dinner?"
Kurt accepted... and later, they returned to Trishul's room at the hotel.
It was Trishul's first time... and it was magical!
They hardly slept that night as they explored every mind-boggling possibilities... taking turns as they pleasured each other... on and on, like two excited boys with a new toy, untiring... refusing to end their exciting game!
The planned three days rolled on to became a week, and Kurt too stayed back... both finally returning to Vienna, together. Trishul deciding to stay on, reluctant to leave... after all, school didn't start for another week, and he could as well spend that period in Vienna, with Kurt.
It was another crazy week, playful and fun-filled - visiting the university and lazing away their days in the parks, the museums and the Hofburg... Spending hours at the various coffee shops and Konditoreien - gorging on kipferl, pastries and cakes. Both young men lost in the mesmerisingly lilting waltz melody that seemed to permeate everywhere... everything... every pore of their very being.
And each night was as exhilarating as that first night at Rust!
It was on one such late morning outing that Trishul had an interesting encounter with one of Kurt's artist friend, Johnannes - "Of noble lineage," Kurt had whispered with a sly grin.
They were at a high-end coffee shop under the shadows of the Burgtheatre, had just ordered their kapuziner and vanille kipferl when Johnannes walked up to their table, joining them after the usual greetings and introduction had been completed.
Slender and tall, with incredible large eyes and an astonishingly sensuous mouth, Johnannes was in his late thirties - elegantly courteous, and eloquently graceful. Appalled as he watched Trishul stir in the whipped cream when the waitress had placed their coffee before them. Emitting a treble disapproval as he exclaimed, "Ach nein!" waving his slender fingers, "Auweh, de royal dreenk of de Hapsburg, you do nowt stir!"
And to Kurt's soft chuckles, elaborated, "Dees ees no espresso..." explaining how one should first heap the brew with the schlagober (whipped cream) and then top it with a light sprinkling of the shaved chocolate... and then, patiently let the schlagober melt while one could carefully nibble the chocolate shavings from the top. And once the cream was down to about half an inch of the cup, then, only then, could one sip... slowly... without disturbing the layer of cream!
"Nowt like zat!" he ended, making a stabbing motion at the cup with his forefinger.
Trishul smiled politely, "I'll remember..." keeping a straight face as he assiduously ignored Kurt's toes under the table, wiggling up and down his calf.
On the final evening, the night before his return, they both decided that they'd like to meet again... remain in touch. Give things a shot, take turns and visit each other whenever possible.
Things worked, and it was a giddy year and a half for the two young men... both going away for exciting weekends - hiking the Jura, beaches in southern France, weekends in Amsterdam, Venice, Rome, Prague, Budapest, Hamburg and Munich... the Salzburg Festival... Zurich and St. Moritz, and numerous other incredible out-of-the-way places that Kurt seem to know like the back of his hand. Both travelling to India when Trishul visited home...
It was like an unending, long-drawn honeymoon!
And once Trishul finished school, returning to Europe to start his apprenticeship after a short visit home (having stared work on the winery), Kurt joined him.
But all good things, unfortunately, must come to an end, and soon Trishul's year was over. Back home, his vineyard too was ready and waiting, as was the plant and his team.
"Come with me," Trishul had proposed, asking Kurt to join him, and together they'd manage the vineyard, produce their wine, and build their own label.
Kurt was reluctant. "You're good, have offers... you could work here instead!" he suggested.
"Kurt, I can't stay here, I have to go back," Trishul sighed with sorrow.
There was regret, but there was also realisation, both becoming aware that neither was willing to give up on their dream and make the move. But they would stay in touch, always be there for each other, no matter what, always remain friends!
And so, Trishul returned home... without Kurt.
... to be continued
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